DESIGN | Creating Home - Home is where the Art is
An Article on DIY and Projects to make a Home
What drives the human instinct to design and decorate could be debated until it implodes into a handful of colorful confetti. Decorating is a form of self expression, that for some, seems as natural as rain bouncing off a tasteful teak patio set. The brave even risk security deposits to paint their living room in that perfect shade of grey-blue, but it is all too easy to stop seeing your surroundings once you move in, and to let things fall slowly into atrophy. Especially once the monthly rent check has cleared, and the well deserved coffee breaks and cocktail hours have been tallied—it seems that West Elm could be a titch out of the budget. Fear not! There are other solutions that are more creative, rewarding, and in some cases more sustainable to create a covetable, comfortable home. For goodness’ sake—don’t get caught in the net of those tempting Swedes. Forget about their delicious meatballs—it is not worth swimming in broken particle board a year later. Your local dump thanks you for refraining from their yellow and blue lure and seeking out alternative options instead.
Curating a creative haven can be a daunting task, so I spoke with San Francisco interior designers from the Chroma Collective to get their take on a few creative ways to make a space your own. Leann Boyd, designer at Chroma, said the best place to begin the design process is often in your own closet! “You have dressed yourself for years, so reference your wardrobe to help pinpoint your favorite color palettes, patterns, shapes, and silhouettes.” This can help provide direction for your house, and also inform your choices in a way that really reflects your taste. Like maintaining your wardrobe, editing is an important part of maintaining a useful and beautiful home. Boyd goes on to say, “Edit down and be very selective! If you are indifferent towards any pieces, donate or try to trade with friends or family.” As with that pair of boots you wore once and due to a certain pinky toe numbness have never worn again but can’t bear to part with; having vases, books, and tiny ceramic owl salt and pepper shakers that you like, but don’t LOVE, create unnecessary clutter and become dust collectors. In most urban environments, increasing your square footage isn’t a realistic option, so paring down becomes an integral part of a home that truly reflects you.
Flea markets, antique fairs, and consignment shops are a great resource to find that statement coffee table if you can see the glitter through the grime, and are willing to wipe off that grime to make it your own. The Alameda Point Antiques Faire is the Bay Area flea that takes the vintage cake. Held on the old naval base in Alameda on the first Sunday of every month, each row (lettered from A to Z) hosts 20 vendors. You can get lost in everything from high end antique foo dogs for $2,000 to $1 bins full of 1950s era postcards. Furniture can often be scored at flea markets, albeit the reasonably priced pieces usually need a little attention—but nothing a quick dusting and a fresh coat of paint can’t fix. If you are willing to donate a rainy weekend to a project, then Craigslist can also be a resource to find goods people are looking to unload quickly (read: cheaply) that you can make your own. Make sure that the pieces you are investing time in have good bones—and use wikiHow as a resource for different tutorials in refurbishing.
Moveloot.com is a fairly recent virtual addition to the city, with a pop-up shop in Hayes Valley and a site that launched in October 2013. They capitalize on the Craigslist mentality of keeping items out of our landfills, but in a more user friendly way. Moveloot was founded by four friends who were fed up with moving and having to buy, sell, and re-buy all new furniture. I spoke with the CMO of Moveloot.com, Jenny Morrill, about the inspiration behind the site, “We want to build the most convenient service possible for buying and selling second-hand goods, to make it easy for people to reuse and recirculate their items.” Moveloot will pick up an item you want to sell from your home, list it for you in an attractive way, they will split the profits 50/50 once it sells and then deliver it to the new owner for free! Not only is it a great resource for selling that dresser that doesn’t quite hold all your socks, but it makes buying used furniture as convenient as buying shampoo from Amazon. According to Morrill, “furniture waste is a huge problem, accounting for about 10.8M tons of landfill waste annually,” recently they have expanded their services to the entire Bay Area, as well as Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina.
After identifying your design direction and refurbishing a few pieces or purchasing a few “new” items, the next step is to invest in items that will solidify your design direction. Chroma Designers didn’t recommend a pricey couch or a sturdy kitchen table. Boyd says “Investing in art (local feels more personal and special) is the primary purchase that will make your space unique and reflective of your personal style.” She went on to call out a few Bay Area colleges that could serve as a great spot to pick out a few inexpensive pieces and help support the next generation of Warhols. Look for upcoming exhibitions at your local art schools to be able to afford an original piece of artwork. Prints are also a great option to add artwork in the $20-$100 range (a fraction of the price of an original artwork). Check out sites like art.com, society6.com, and etsy.com to support artists. Boyd goes on to offer some more helpful hints when bringing new artwork into your home, “Remember not to overdecorate. A few unique pieces will go a long way. Be sure to thoughtfully hang your artwork at average viewing height with the center of each piece at 58” above floor.” Don’t negate creating your own art either, a nice frame-job can make anything look museum quality. Get a vacation photo printed poster size, paint a simple pattern of dots or stripes, or frame up a few samples of wallpaper—instant room brightener!
There is no reason to rush out and buy thousands of dollars worth of furnishings to make a place feel like home. With some ingenuity, creative thinking, and a few well spent weekends your home can become the perfect retreat from the city. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes—like your wardrobe, a home can change! Don’t like the pillows you purchased? Re-cover them! Sick of the couch you’ve had for four years? Sell it on moveloot.com and break even at the least! If all else fails, there are talented groups of designers in every city motivated to help the likes of the overwhelmed everywhere. Or as Boyd puts it, “At Chroma we offer consulting, sourcing, and styling services to help navigate this furnishing process in a fun educational way that help clients realize the best versions of themselves in their homes!” What could be better than a personalized team to help translate your Pinterest board into a reality? Happy house curating!